Recorded offences involving child cruelty and neglect have risen by more than half in three years, according to analysis of police figures.
UK forces recorded 23,529 offences of adults neglecting, mistreating or assaulting children in 2019-20, the NSPCC said.
This is a rise of 53% since 2016-17, when 15,412 offences were recorded, and more than double the total recorded six years ago (9,518), it added.
The NSPCC said there were significant variations between regions and nations, but such offences have risen overall each year since 2013-14.
The charity also analysed records covering April to June, and found that 5,476 child cruelty and neglect offences were recorded.
As the holidays approach, some children dread their time at home and what comes with it – abuse. When a child feels like they have nowhere else to turn, it’s vital that we’re here – especially at Christmas. Help Childline be here for children: https://t.co/EcyX6Qhs5Spic.twitter.com/dDiwj0P5Yu
— NSPCC (@NSPCC) November 30, 2020
But senior police figures believe this does not provide a full picture of what children may have experienced during and after the first national lockdown.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “The pandemic is the greatest challenge we’ve faced in decades and these figures are yet another example of its impact on vulnerable children.
“They also provide a heart-breaking picture of the concern about the number of young people who were exposed to pain and suffering following the start of the pandemic.
“This year it is even more essential that children have a place where they can seek help and support. Our Childline service will be running every day over the Christmas holidays, but we need the public’s support so we can ensure vulnerable children are heard.”
The charity is warning that children may be at risk of abuse this Christmas and is asking members of the public to donate £20 to the NSPCC to help services like Childline.
Signs of abuse and neglect include untreated or accidental injuries, inadequate or unwashed clothing, poor communication, language or social skills and a child being left alone for long periods.
Adults with concerns about a child’s welfare should call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000, or email email@example.com.